My first memory of him included my first few weeks as my new job as a youth minister. During the hiring process, someone on that panel's eyes went up when I mentioned I was also a musician and loved worship music. He invited me to consider checking out "testament" , the praise band.
I was so nervous to check it out. But when I finally did, the welcoming smiles of Tom, Denise, Lana, Barb, Dave, Paul and crew were enough to put me at ease. They were kind, funny, adaptable and made me feel like I had always been a part of the team.
Tom especially. While Tom could play guitar, he mainly played keyboard for the group. He played much like I do, by ear and chords. But 100x better.
Both of us tragically Cubs fans, he would call me. "Ray " for Ray Burris. And old baseball player. And I would call him "Bob" for Bob Brenley, who was at the time the Cubs tv announcer who, in my opinion, Tom was a dead ringer for.
His 2 younger daughters were also in many of the youth activities. And Tom would chaperone many of them. I learned a bit about his recent family history and it was heartbreaking. But you would never know, he was always joyful and full of life.
He and Kate threw the best parties. And anyone and everyone was invited. They made you feel like you were the cool kids. (I even stole their decorating idea from their 'pub' and have old old family photos all over my dining room. )
He, along with many others from the church were instrumental is helping me with some dental challenges. Initiating it in fact. And the difference that made to my self confidence, I cannot put adequate words to.
Tom at some point shared his personal music with me. The stuff that he wrote and recorded. Such a gifted musician. And he encouraged me in my own, even helping me record a few songs with his equipment.
Such a generous, kind gifted soul. I regret not staying in better touch after we moved north. It's something I need to work on in life in general. For his life changed mine in so many big and small ways for the better. And I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
It's with a heavy heart that the world has had to say goodbye. Heaven has gained an angel. He joins his first wife and daughter. He is at peace at home with Lord.
He leaves a granddaughter. 4 beautiful daughters. Countless friends. And a community forever changed by his kindness. If only we could all be Toms
My heart and condolences go out to his many loved ones.